Posts tagged with "The Washington Post"

‘Bigger than the Super Bowl’: Americans are spending big on eclipse tourism

March 28, 2024

For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the total solar eclipse in April, there’s no shortage of options: Six Flags Over Texas is hosting a “Solar Coaster” viewing party. Holland America has a 22-day Solar Eclipse Cruise. And after filling up one path-of-totality flight, Delta Air Lines has added a second, promising unadulterated views from “extra-large” windows, reports The Washington Post.

But almost everything is sold out.

The total solar eclipse, which will be visible from more than a dozen states, is fueling a small spending boom across the nation. Hotels are booked, campgrounds are full and rental cars are nowhere to be found around the April 8 event. States including Arkansas and Indiana are expecting record-breaking travel and spending.

“This is likely going to be the single biggest tourism event we’ve ever had,” said Michael Pakko, an economist at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who is projecting a statewide windfall of $105 million. “Obviously, it’s going to be a short duration—a long weekend—but for that concentrated period of time, it’s going to be a very big deal.”

It’s also rare. A total solar eclipse—during which the moon completely covers the sun for a few minutes, creating a pitch-black “path of totality”—is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many. It’s been 99 years since New York had one, and 218 years for Ohio.

This time around, the path of totality will stretch from Texas to Maine, covering parts of several states—including Missouri, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania—along the way.

The boost to those local economies could be significant. Texas, which is expected to get the biggest influx of visitors, could pocket $428 million in eclipse-related spending, according to Ray Perryman, an economist in Waco. Johnson County, Indiana, is forecasting as much as $25 million in extra revenue; while Rochester, New York, expects about $10 million.

Americans emerged from the pandemic ready to shell out, especially for memorable experiences. The total solar eclipse is the ultimate example, with the next one being two decades away for most of the United States. In all as many as 3.7 million people are expected to travel to the path of totality for the eclipse, according to estimates from geographer Michael Zeiler.

Robust consumer spending —which has continued despite high prices—has kept the economy chugging along at a time when many had feared a recession.

Spending on international travel and live entertainment surged nearly 30% last year—five times the rate of overall spending growth, as Americans splurged on European vacations and Taylor Swift concerts. Eclipse travel is expected to fuel another mini spending boom.

Indiana, for example, is preparing for a record 500,000 visitors—more than seven times the attendance at the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis, according to Amy Howell, vice president of tourism at the Indiana Destination Development Corporation.

State officials in transportation, natural resources, and homeland security have been meeting for months to iron out logistics, such as port-a-potty availability and traffic plans, she said. Some schools are closed that day, and garbage collection will be on hold.

A thousand miles away, Steven Wright is making similar calculations at his Vermont ski resort. The 900 rooms at Jay Peak have been sold out since last spring, with the earliest eclipse-related reservations arriving five years ago. In all, some 8,000 people are expected to take part in the resort’s festivities, which start at $365 for two people.

A Pink Floyd cover band will play the “Dark Side of the Moon” album right as the eclipse begins. Also unfolding then: a 50-person wedding on the mountain’s peak.

“It’s an awful lot of buildup for a few minutes,” said Wright, the property’s general manager.

These types of viewing parties are cropping up everywhere, including at alpaca farms in Texas, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas,  and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For those seeking a more exclusive experience, T.E.I. Tours and Travel is offering private path-of-totality flights starting at $9,750 per person.

The Planetary Society, a nonprofit headed by Bill Nye “the Science Guy,” is hosting a 1,000-person camp-out at a wedding venue in Fredericksburg, Texas. There will be astronomy talks in the glass chapel and telescopes and games on the lawn. Tickets are $325 a pop and, so far,the attendee list includes people from nearly all 50 states, plus Finland, Japan and Spain.

“We are huge space nerds, and seeing a total solar eclipse, it stirs something deeply profound inside of us,” spokesperson Danielle Gunn says. “People travel all over the world to see this—and once you see one total eclipse, you get why.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump wins partial stay of fraud judgment, allowed to post $175 million

March 23, 2024

An appeals court panel said on Monday, March 25, that former president Donald Trump would be allowed to post a $175 million bond to stave off enforcement of a nearly half-billion dollar civil judgment against him and his business, reports The Washington Post.

The order on Monday morning was a significant win for Trump, who was otherwise facing a massive cash crunch and the prospect of New York Attorney General Letitia James seizing some of his assets as soon as this week.

However, while the panel eased the financial cloud over Trump, it did not erase it entirely. The panel gave Trump ten days to come up with the reduced bond of $175 million. Trump’s attorneys had previously sought to post a $100 million bond, rather than the full amount—and have not said whether he can meet the $175 million threshold.

James, who brought the lawsuit against Trump and his company, said Trump misstated the value of his properties and other assets by up to $2.2 billion a year from 2011 to 2021.

A judge in February ordered that Trump pay more than $450 million as a penalty. Trump’s attorneys have suggested that he would struggle to finance a bond of that size, saying they had tried and failed to get more than two dozen companies to help secure the bond.

An attorney for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. Trump himself was in a New York courtroom Monday for a hearing in an unrelated criminal case, related to hush money payments made to an adult-film actress.

A spokesperson for the attorney general said: “Donald Trump is still facing accountability for his staggering fraud. The court has already found that he engaged in years of fraud to falsely inflate his net worth and unjustly enrich himself, his family, and his organization. The $464 million judgment—plus interest—against Donald Trump and the other defendants still stands.”

Donald Trump‘s first criminal trial is now scheduled to start on April 15, according to a report by Deadline.

Judge Juan Merchan set that date on Monday, as the former president faces a series of charges related to the hush money payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels in advance of the 2016 election. Trump’s charges have to do with claims that business records were falsified, among other things.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

New Yorkers save two canine cafes as dog-centric eateries gain momentum

March 13, 2024

When the owners of two New York canine cafes announced they were closing last month, it was a shock to their customers—so much so, in fact, that they refused to accept it, reports The Washington Post.

Above, rescue dogs Juliet and Milos prepare to enjoy the tasting menu at Dogu in San Francisco. (Photo source: Rahmi Massarweh)

“I knew people were going to be sad. I knew I was going to hear some nice things about the cafe, but I didn’t realize that people were going to mobilize to change the outcome,” said Logan Mikhly, who founded Boris & Horton with her father, Coppy Holzman, in 2018.

Boris & Horton opened in the East Village, billed as the city’s first cafe for dogs, where humans and their pets eat and hang out. It’s similar to a regular cafe, but there are more customers with floppy ears and wagging tails, and it’s part of a trend of similar shops that have popped up around New York and elsewhere.

The cafe serves snacks and pastries for humans and dogs (the coffee is just for humans). After several years of success, Boris & Horton launched a second location  in Brooklyn last spring.

To comply with the local health department’s regulations, human food and pet food are prepared separately, and dog food is served in single-use, disposable containers. The cafe portion of the business is in a distinct, adjacent space to the seating area.

Although Boris & Horton was often bustling, the business recently started suffering. There were challenges at the Williamsburg location, including a delay in its beer and wine permit. Then a mysterious dog respiratory illness began spreading in several states before the holiday season—keeping people away during Boris & Horton’s busiest time of year.

“Holiday events were canceled because of that; a couple corporate events were canceled because people weren’t comfortable,” Mikhly said. “We just didn’t have that holiday bump that we normally have.”

“We had a couple tough weekends where we normally see our highest revenue and it just wasn’t happening,” she said. “We were starting to feel pretty worried.”

Last month, she and her father made the difficult decision to shut down both locations. They said they felt they had no choice.

“We finalized it all fairly quickly. We wanted to give our staff enough time to look for other jobs, and the community enough time to say goodbye,” Mikhly said.

But the community wasn’t willing to let the cafes go. Almost immediately, customers rallied.

“It was such a complete shock to me that they were closing,” said Amanda Gerzog, 28, who lives near the East Village location and has been a regular customer at Boris & Horton for the past six years. “I was devastated, but also determined.”

Gerzog, a social media marketer, often works remotely at the cafe. As a dog lover who doesn’t have a pooch at home, she jumped at the opportunity to be around dogs all day.

“That’s one of the reasons I go,” she said. “There is a unique sense of community that you feel in the cafe. Boris & Horton is a place where I just love to be for hours.”

She knew other New Yorkers felt the same. So Gerzog started a GoFundMe campaign to save the small business. In only a few days, more than $20,000 poured in.

“I’m so happy that the community felt the same as me,” Gerzog said. “They’re definitely a business that doesn’t deserve to close.”

Mikhly and her father were stunned by the support. “People just made it their business to help us,” said Mikhly, explaining some people reached out with other offers, including a technician who fixed the air conditioning at one of the cafes.

“We also heard from people what the cafe meant to them,” Mikhly said. “People had a stronger connection to it than I ever thought.”

With that in mind, Mikhly and her father started their own fundraising effort and drew in more than $250,000—all from individuals. The average donation was about $60.

“We’re so, so grateful,” said Mikhly, adding that they temporarily closed both cafes for repairs and upgrades. Both Boris & Horton locations reopened Monday.

“We’re now feeling pretty re-energized and revitalized,” Mikhly said.

Boris & Horton is part of a growing number of restaurants and coffee shops that cater to four-legged customers nationwide—and around the world. For the most part, Mikhly said, the dogs are well-mannered.

“Owners are pretty good at knowing if their dogs are right for a dog-friendly cafe,” she said, noting that the floors in the cafe are cement to avoid damage from doggy accidents—which happen sometimes. “We take cleaning up quickly very seriously.”

People show up to hang out with their pooches—who are welcome to go off-leash—but also to socialize. “If you come to the cafe, you’ll notice that people are looking up from their laptops, they’re talking to their neighbors,” said Mikhly. “It’s a much more social environment than a typical coffee shop.”

They named the cafe after Holzman’s eight-year-old pit bull mix, Boris, and Mikhly’s 14-year-old Chihuahua-poodle mix, Horton.

“We find that dogs are definitely a catalyst for conversation,” Mikhly said, adding that they also partner with shelters and rescues to host regular adoption events. About 3,000 dogs have been adopted from events at the cafes.

Many regular restaurants are tapping into the dog-friendly trend and offer separate outdoor patio menus for canines—complete with nonalcoholic  “doggie beer,” seasonally flavored ice cream and grilled steak served with steamed vegetables. Some hotels are welcoming pups, too, offering up doggy bathrobes and treats. Dogs even can attend movies at a British cinema chain.

At Dogue in San Francisco, pet owners can sign up their dogs for a $75 tasting menu on Sundays. “Our tasting menu is now booked out through April,” said Rahmi Massarweh, the chef and owner of Dogue, which opened in 2022.

The multicourse meal has what Massarweh calls “primal proteins”—which are meats and seafoods that “dogs would naturally eat in an ancestral form,” he said, citing wild antelope heart as an example. Dogue also makes and sells packaged dog food, as well as “pawtisserie”—pastries designed for dogs.

Dogue doesn’t serve human food but does offer owners complimentary drinks.

Experts say one of the benefits of dog-friendly businesses is that they bolster humans’ mental health and connection to one another.

“Some of the most important relationships we have are with our companion dogs,” said Philip Tedeschi, founder of the Institute for Human-Animal Connection at the University of Denver.

Tedeschi said dogs make us more present and engaged. They serve as a “social lubricant,” encouraging people to feel more comfortable interacting with others.

Being around dogs “reduces cortisol levels, or the stress neurotransmitters that often prevent people from interacting with one another,” Tedeschi said. It also activates oxytocin and serotonin, which make humans more likely to be social, he said.

Tedeschi said he isn’t surprised that businesses are increasingly catering to canines—or that a community mobilized to save a set of dog cafes from shutting down.

“Dogs and other animals can teach us a lot about relationships and how we can treat one another,” he said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

A runner saw a dog stuck near a 1,000-foot cliff. He carried her down.

March 11, 2024

Sergio Florian was out for an evening run up a mountain on Oahu’s east side when something caught his eye: a white and gray dog curled up near the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff. The dog was in distress, reports The Washington Post.

“I was shocked to see her because I’ve never seen a dog up that high,” said Florian, 44, who trains for marathons on steep trails behind his home in Kaaawa, Hawaii, once or twice a week.

The dog was dehydrated, and her face and neck were covered with scratches, he said. Florian immediately realized she was too weak to make it down the steep Pu’u Manamana trail without help.

“She was in the most treacherous part of the trail, stuck between two cliffs, and it was almost sunset,” he said, adding that there were drop-offs in all directions.

He called out to the dog and slowly approached her.

He knew that he would have to carry her the half mile down the most vertical portion of the four-mile trail. Florian gently scooped up the canine—he estimated the dog weighed about 45 pounds—and began working his way down the rocky trail as strong winds swirled around them.

“She was quivering and scared, and I could feel her warm little underbelly on my skin as I hooked my arm around her,” Florian said, recalling the day, February 28. “She seemed really tame and loving, but she was really weak, like she’d been up there for a while.”

Florian didn’t know at the time that the dog’s name was Stevie and she’d been missing for three days since taking off to chase a wild pig. The feral pig population has skyrocketed on Oahu in recent years.

Hours before Florian’s hike, another hiker had come across the dog but couldn’t get her down by himself, and he posted about it on the Oahu Hiking Community private Facebook page.

“People had already heard about the dog and were trying to find the owner, but I had no idea any of this was going on,” Florian said. “All I knew was this poor girl needed help and it was up to me to get her down.”

“Leaving her wasn’t an option,” he said.

It took him about an hour to carefully work his way down the mountain while balancing the dog in his arms so he wouldn’t fall, he said, noting that there are sheer cliffs on parts of both sides of the trail.

“The lower part of the trail is more popular—lots of people go there to take photos of the spectacular view,” Florian said. “Not many people go higher up because it’s quite dangerous. If you fall, you’re pretty much done.”

“I have fear and respect for the place, but I feel comfortable with it because I’ve been training here for so long,” he added. “I know where I’m putting my feet as I go up and down.”

Florian said he works as a physical therapist and helps people with spinal injuries to learn to walk again.

Above, Florian gently scooped up the tired and weak canine — he estimated the dog weighed about 45 pounds — and began working his way down the rocky trail . (Photo source: Sergio Florian)

“My arms are really strong because I’m lifting people all day,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of people who could have carried that dog, but I knew that I could.”

He said he stopped several times on the way down to rest with the pup and reassure her that she’d soon be safe.

“I just kept telling her, ‘It’s okay, girl, you’re doing great,’” Florian said. One of the videos he took during the ordeal shows him petting the dog, saying, “I don’t know whose girl this is, but we’ve got to find out.”

On the steepest part of the descent, he held on to the cliff with one hand and held the dog close to him with the other hand as he scooted down on his behind, he said.

“I really had to balance myself and hold her on top of me,” he said. “I tried not to move too fast so she wouldn’t get freaked out.”

It was around 6 p.m. when he reached the bottom of the trail and took the dog to his house. His wife, Dayane Florian, had seen posts about Stevie on social media, and she helped to track down the owner, he said. Island News reported on the rescue.

“While we waited for [the owner] to come over, we gave Stevie lots of water and some food,” Sergio Florian said. “She’s such a nice dog—hated to see her leave.”

The owner did not respond to a request from The Washington Post for an interview, but Florian said he thanked him for getting his dog back.

“I felt I developed a little bond with Stevie out there on the trail, and I’d love to see her again,” he said.

That night after the rescue, Florian posted on Instagram that his arms were aching from carrying Stevie, but his heart was full. More than 24,000 people have liked the post.

“I couldn’t leave another living creature in distress like that,” he wrote. “Love happy endings.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Scientists are fascinated by an extremely muscular 93-year-old man

February 27, 2024

An elderly Irish man is so fit that he’s become the subject of a case study—and for those who aren’t exercising regularly, take hope: He didn’t start working out until he was in his 70s, reports Futurism.

As The Washington Post discloses, medical practitioners say 93-year-old indoor rowing champion Richard Morgan has the heart and body of a man in his 30s or 40s.

At 165 pounds that are 80% muscle, it’s clear why Morgan attracted their attention. But when researchers at the University of Limerick hooked him up to vital monitoring machines and had him race a 2,000-meter mile on the rowing machine, they were stunned to find that his heart rate was 153 beats per minute—far higher than expected for his age and said to be one of the highest recorded for anyone his age.

“It was one of the most inspiring days I’ve ever spent in the lab,” UL Healthy Aging and Nutrition Professor Philip Jakemen—who co-wrote a recent study about Morgan in the Journal of Applied Physiology—recently told WaPo.

Unlike the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s grueling workout, Morgan’s abbreviated routine is as simple as it is sustainable. He uses the rowing machine for about 40 minutes per day—and roughly 70% of the time, he keeps things easy; while in the last 20% of that short time, he keeps up a medium pace before going hard for the final 10%.

Along with the rowing routine, the Irish powerhouse does lunges and curls with dumbbells two or three times a week until his muscles grow tired, and eats a bit more protein than the recommended daily amount. In a world of increasingly complicated—and oftentimes dangerous—name-brand workouts and fad diets, Morgan’s self-made model is refreshingly simple and easily replicable, even if he might have some extra genetic juice keeping him so fit at his advanced age.

According to Lorcan Daly, the man’s grandson who works at Ireland’s Technological University of the Shannon as an assistant lecturer in exercise science, Morgan only got into fitness some 20 years prior at the age of 73, when he decided on a whim to go to a rowing practice session with another his grandsons, who was a collegiate rower.

As with most things related to health, the lithe Irishman’s way with a rowing machine does seem to have a genetic component—with prior generations also engaging in the famously healthy exercise.

“He never looked back,” Daly said.

Research contact: @futurism

Democrats seek to leverage Alabama embryo ruling in an election year

February 23, 2024

Since the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are people on Friday, February 16, Democrats have begun to seize on the decision—casting it as further evidence of a Republican-led assault on reproductive rights, an issue which they have reason to believe already plays to their advantage, reports The Washington Post.

The Alabama decision, which threatens the practice of in vitro fertilization, comes nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—prompting several states to enact restrictions on abortion and catapulting the issue of reproductive rights to the forefront of subsequent elections.

Democrats, including those in the White House, argue that the Alabama decision is a harbinger of further restrictions, if Republicans make gains in Congress and expand their hold on statehouses nationwide—and hope the issue can boost turnout in an election year in which polling suggests a lack of enthusiasm for the incumbent president.

In its ruling, the Alabama high court held that someone can be held liable for destroying frozen embryos, a common outcome in IVF procedures, which have been utilized in soaring numbers in the United States by families of all political stripes over the past decade.

Joy Williams, a Democrat consultant based in New York, said the ruling bolsters Democrats ahead of the 2024 election because it will widely be seen by families as part of “an escalating attack on their freedoms” by Republicans.

“What this says to families and individuals is we are going to continue to restrict your ability to make individual choices about your body and your livelihood,” Williams said. “And that motivates people to turn out.”

Reproductive rights as an election issue have been a highly favorable one for Democrats in recent contests. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, every ballot measure that has sought to preserve or expand abortion access has been successful, while those that have sought to restrict abortion access have failed — even in states that skew conservative.

The White House was quick to put a spotlight on the Alabama decision. In a social media post Wednesday, Vice President Harris called it “outrageous” and said that it “is already robbing women of the freedom to decide when and how to build a family.”

And in statement Thursday, Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez sought to pin blame directly on Trump.

“What is happening in Alabama right now is only possible because Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade,” she said, alluding to the three justices nominated by Trump who currently sit on the court.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Why skipping your dog’s walk is a bigger deal than you think

February 22, 2024

A 2011 study conducted by Michigan State University on the benefits of dog-walking found only two-thirds of its subjects routinely walked their dogs, reports The Washington Post.

According to experts, this forgoing of walks doesn’t only make neurotic dog guardians feel guilty. It can significantly affect your dog’s emotional and physical well-being.

“First of all, dogs don’t exercise by themselves, for the most part,” says Stephanie Borns-Weil, an assistant clinical professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The amount of exercise a dog needs varies based on age, breed and health: It can be as little as 30 minutes a day or as much as a few hours—but virtually all dogs need exercise in some form.

The typical yard, Borns-Weil says, just doesn’t offer enough stimulation to prompt an adequate amount of movement. Unless you’re spending time playing with your dog, “they’re just going to sit there,” she says, “because the space is familiar.” She compared it to reading the same book over and over again, or seeking enrichment by hanging out in your bathroom.

This need for exercise, while crucial, isn’t  even the most important reason to walk your dog. They may or may not get some exercise in the yard, Borns-Weil says, “but they’re not getting companionship [from their human], and they’re not getting the mental stimulation that comes from seeing new things, or, from the point of view of a dog, sniffing new things.”

Dogs who don’t have these needs met “are subjected to some of the same effects of long-term chronic stress on their health that people are,” she says, ranging from depression and anxiety, to problems with the immune system. Studies have found that dogs in shelters, too, benefit from direct human interaction, which reduces stress and stress-related behaviors.)

To help your dog get the most out of her walk, let her explore. “Sniffing is the way that dogs experience the world,” says Valli Fraser-Celin, a humane dog training advocate. Where humans have 6 million olfactory receptors, research shows that dogs can have up to 300 million; it’s how they acquire information about their environment and communicate.

Dogs can tell which animals have been nearby— including sniffing out their gender and information about their health. But so often, humans hurry them along, prioritizing exercise (or their own schedule) over their dog’s interest in the world around them. “It would be like taking me to the Smithsonian Institute,” Borns-Weil says, “and I’m wanting to stop and look at the exhibits, and somebody says, hey, hurry up; we’re just exercising, keep walking.”

Share this articleNo subscription required to readShare

Allowing a dog to pull off to the side and sniff whenever he wants can feel wrong to those accustomed to outdated, dominance-focused training methods, which prioritize obedience above all else (and which are based on a long-debunked, but still persistent theory). Fraser-Celin warns against getting wrapped up in that mind-set.

It isn’t necessary that your dog walk obediently behind or beside you, or that they only stop to sniff when you grant permission. What’s important is that you pay attention to what they’re communicating and help them meet their needs. “If your dog wants to sniff every blade of grass,” Fraser-Celin says, “then that’s what they want to do on their walk.”

After some amount of time, you can usher them to a new area to sniff, or you might even designate a portion of the walk for sniffing and a portion for exercise.

But, above all, guardians need to take the animals’ lead, Fraser-Celin says, “rather than focusing on what our intentions are for the walk.” And if your dog isn’t into meeting strangers—canine or human—don’t feel pressured to acquiesce to those who insist their dog “is friendly!” or “all dogs love me!”

“Whenever you’re out in the world, it’s important to be an advocate for your dog’s needs,” Borns-Weil says. “Your dog is not public property.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump says he’d disregard NATO treaty, urge Russian attacks on U.S. allies

February 13, 2024

Former president Donald Trump ramped up his attacks on NATO on Saturday, February 10—claiming he suggested to a foreign leader that he would encourage Russia to do “whatever the hell they want” to member countries that he views as not spending enough on their own defense, reports The Washington Post.

“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well, sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?,’” Trump said during a rally at Coastal Carolina University. “I said, ‘You didn’t pay. You’re delinquent.’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.”

Trump’s remarks come as the GOP is debating whether to provide additional foreign aid to Ukraine, which is fighting a war with Russia after being invaded by Moscow in 2022. The Senate is considering legislation that would give $60 billion to Ukraine. House Republicans, however, have echoed Trump’s skepticism about doing so.

Trump has long been a fierce critic of U.S. participation in the alliance—frequently hammering European countries on their share of defense spending—and he appeared to be referring to indirect funding as part of participation in the alliance.

Since 2006, each NATO member has had a guideline of spending at least 2% of its gross domestic product on defense spending by 2024.

NATO countries were already increasing their funding substantially before Trump’s presidency, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. More than half had met or come close to that goal, as of 2023, and many member countries have increased their spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Under Article 5, if a NATO ally is attacked, other member countries of NATO consider it “an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.” Since NATO’s founding in 1949, the clause has been invoked only once: On Sept. 12, 2001, after the terrorist attacks in the United States the day before.

Several NATO partnership experts described Trump’s understanding of the financial obligations of NATO member countries as inaccurate and argued that his opposition to collective security as a member nation is misplaced.

“NATO isn’t a pay-to-play setup, as Trump seems to think. It’s an alliance that is first and foremost about U.S. national security interests to prevent another world war originating in Europe,” said Alina Polyakova, president and CEO of the Center for European Policy Analysis, in an email to the Post.

She added, “The U.S. investment in NATO is worth every dollar—the only time that the Article 5 collective defense clause was initiated was in response to 9/11. Our allies came to our aid then, and it would be shameful and misguided to not do the same.”

In May 2017, Trump initially did not affirm the United States’ commitment to Article 5, but then reversed course two weeks later. Trump broadly has expressed skepticism about NATO. His campaign website states: “We have to finish the process we began under my Administration of fundamentally reevaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission.”

The New York Times reported in 2019 that Trump discussed withdrawing from NATO. While he was in office, Trump repeatedly tried to claim credit for making NATO countries pay more, claiming that “hundreds of billions” of dollars came to NATO as a result of his complaints about other countries as “delinquent” members.

Daniel Fried, a former assistant secretary of state for European Affairs and fellow at the Atlantic Council, said of Trump: “He seems to prefer a world based on pure power where other countries, where the United States intimidates or threatens other countries. The trouble with that is when we need them, those other countries won’t be there.”

“Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged—and it endangers American national security, global stability, and our economy at home,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Haley camp seeks to convince top donors that Trump would cost GOP the House

February 1, 2024

Nikki Haley’s campaign manager warned influential donors on Tuesday, January 30, that the GOP would lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives if Donald Trump were the party’s presidential nominee—leaning into concerns about down-ballot races as some anti-Trump Republicans view the fight over Congress as a better investment than the presidential race, reports The Washington Post.

Speaking to the same group behind closed doors, one of Trump’s top advisers delivered a data-heavy presentation about why Republican financiers should get on board as he barrels toward the nomination—charting out how he could win enough delegates to clinch the nomination early this spring.

Susie Wiles, who gave the presentation in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, and other top Trump advisers have argued that Haley has no path forward and that money spent to elevate her diverts resources that could be used to beat President Joe Biden in the general election.

The dueling presentations, which were described by people with knowledge of the remarks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private comments, reflected the starkly contrasting positions the final two Republican White House hopefuls are in after the first two nominating contests.

Trump is in a commanding position and looking to further consolidate his power after a pair of dominating wins, with many party leaders seeing him as the presumptive nominee. Haley, fighting for her political survival with a path to victory that has all but closed in the eyes of many strategists, has ramped up her attacks on Trump, trying different lines of attack aimed at raising doubts about how he would fare in November. She faces long odds—even in her home state of South Carolina, where she’s now focusing.

Top advisers to Haley and Trump made their cases to members of the American Opportunity Alliance (AOA), which includes some of the GOP’s most influential donors. Last fall, the group summoned representatives of Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)—then seen as Trump’s most formidable opponent—to map out their strategies and how they intended to defeat Trump. But DeSantis is out of the race, and Haley’s team is trying to convince donors that they still have a path, as many Republicans rally behind Trump and turn toward the general election.

On Tuesday in Palm Beach, Haley’s campaign manager Betsy Ankney argued that Trump would lead the GOP to further losses and hurt the rest of the 2024 ticket, according to people familiar with the presentation. Beyond the House, Ankney stressed the importance of maximizing GOP gains in the Senate in 2024, while Democrats are defending many seats, because the map will get much tougher in subsequent years, one person said.

One person familiar with the Haley campaign presentation said Ankney recapped a week in which Trump lashed out at Haley—devoting much of his New Hampshire victory speech to criticizing her—then, suffered a major legal blow, ordered by a jury to pay more than $83 million for defamation.

A spokesman for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In a campaign memo earlier this week, Trump advisers Chris LaCivita and Wiles argued that Haley and her allies “are aiding and abetting Joe Biden by staying in the race.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump skips Illinois loyalty oath promising not to overthrow government

Januaryt 9, 2024

Republican polling leader (and former President) Donald Trump did not sign a loyalty oath requested of candidates for election in Illinois that asks, among other things, to swear that they won’t support overthrowing the government; according to an analysis of candidate petitions by the local news outlets WBEZ and Chicago Sun-Times.

According to a report by The Washington Post, his decision to not sign the pledge came near the third anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Trump is under indictment for alleged crimes in his efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Presidential hopefuls vying for a spot on Illinois’ March 19 primary ballot had to submit their nominating petitions to the State Board of Elections on Thursday, January 7, or Friday, January 8. The loyalty pledge is not required but is a long-standing tradition that candidates undertake as part of that paperwork.

Trump has not publicly acknowledged the decision but had signed the oath during his presidential campaigns in 2016 and 2020. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond on Saturday to a request for comment.

The loyalty oath dates back to the 1950s McCarthy era, when such pledges became popular among lawmakers fearful about the potential infiltration of communism in the United States. The pledge asks candidates to swear they are not affiliated with communist organizations or any “foreign political agency, party, organization, or government which advocates the overthrow of the constitutional government by force.”

The oath remains enshrined in Illinois law but has been struck down as unconstitutional on free speech grounds in federal courts.

The Biden campaign on Saturday condemned Trump’s decision to sidestep the pledge: “For the entirety of our nation’s history, presidents have put their hand on the Bible and sworn to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States—and Donald Trump can’t bring himself to sign a piece of paper saying he won’t attempt a coup to overthrow our government,” said Michael Tyler, communications director for the Biden campaign.

The decision to skip the oath is in line with Trump’s unconventional start to his presidential campaign. In August, he said he would not sign a pledge to support the Republican nominee should he lose the presidential primary. He has also been a no-show at the four GOP debates and is set to skip a debate in Des Moines on Wednesday, January 10—slated days before the Iowa caucuses on January 15.

On Thursday—the same day on which Trump submitted his petition—five Illinois voters filed a petition to remove the former president from the state’s Republican primary ballot.

Research contact: @washingtonpost